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Posts from the ‘Ovarian Cancer’ Category

Another Way to Give: Cancer Research Studies Save Lives

October 13th, 2013

Lisa Dawson

Interested in helping fight cancer?

Organizations focused on programs and services related to cancer are always happy to receive your financial donations, and they can’t survive without volunteers who give precious time. But there’s another way you can help combat cancer, one that typically takes little time and won’t cost you a penny.

Research studies investigate ways to prevent or diagnose cancer

Breast and ovarian cancer both run in my family. With breast cancer, monthly self exams and an annual mammogram should help catch the disease early if it were to develop. Ovarian cancer is another story: It rarely presents symptoms until later stages, resulting in fewer treatment options and higher mortality rates.

researchFor the past six years I have been a participant in the Ovarian Cancer Early Detection Screening Program (OCEDP), a collaboration between the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research, Swedish Medical Center and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

The study is investigating whether blood tests measuring the CA-125 protein and annual ultrasounds help detect ovarian cancer early in women with increased risk. A concurrent study, the Novel Markers trial, aims to find additional blood markers that might complement the CA-125 test.

By taking part in these studies, I am screened for ovarian cancer not once, but twice a year. And my participation will help researchers find ways to detect this form of cancer early. In fact, a recent post on the Fred Hutch blog highlights promising results from ovarian cancer screening trials!

Research study? Clinical trial? What’s the difference?

A research study is also known as a prevention trial. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) describes a cancer prevention trial as a study of a large group of people with the intent of finding better ways to prevent people from getting cancer, or lowering the chances that people will get it.

A treatment or clinical trial finds better ways to treat people who have already been diagnosed with cancer. Clinical trials are treatment-related trials that involve people, and are the final step in a long process that begins with laboratory research. Most cancer treatments used today are the result of past clinical trials.

Interested in becoming part of a study? The Puget Sound region is home to several research centers in need of volunteers:

Please feel free to share any other studies looking for participants.

Ovarian Cancer Sucks Way More Than Running

September 30th, 2012

Lisa Dawson

teal ribbon

Yesterday’s 16 mile training run sort of sucked.

I’ve been dealing with hip pain related to my sciatic nerve for the past two weeks and I’m seeing a physical therapist. As a result, I’ve had to slow the pace of my training down a bit, but… the NYC marathon is in five weeks, and I need to stick to my running schedule.

The run started off poorly and really didn’t improve: I had a late start so it was warmer than I prefer; I was compensating for the pain in my right hip which resulted in a cramp in my left calf; I could feel hot spots on my feet where blisters were starting to form. But I really needed to get the miles in.

I had to dig deep.

I had to remind myself why I was running.

I watched my friend CJ fight stage four ovarian cancer for seven years. When I signed up for the marathon as a member of Fred’s Team, I agreed to raise money for research on a cancer of my choice and I chose ovarian cancer. This disease is particularly heinous because there is no accurate, standardized testing like there is for cervical or breast cancer.

Early detection is important for many reasons:

  • 7 in 10 women die within five years of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer
  • When caught in its earliest stages, treatment for ovarian cancer can result in survival rates as high as 90%
  • Because early symptoms are difficult to diagnose or go undetected, nearly 75% of ovarian cancer patients are diagnosed in advanced stages
  • The long-term survival rate for advanced ovarian cancer is only 10%

I kept going yesterday because ovarian cancer sucks way more than running.

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Another Sunday, Another Training Run

August 19th, 2012

Lisa Dawson

Celebrating CJ Taylor

Distance running is hard.

I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those runners who gets into a “zone” a couple miles into a long run, finishing with the feeling they’ve got more miles left in them. Nope, I’m acutely aware of every single hill, every single mile. With 11 weeks until the New York City Marathon, the training runs are getting longer.

On the bright side, I’m getting into a groove with my fuel, hydration and footwear. I’m feeling pretty good about November 4.

Today’s run was filled with gratitude for many things:

  • My supporters – There’s been a few Are you crazy? reactions (I frequently ask this of myself), but mostly it’s been Go Lisa! Their faith in me and support of this cause spurs me on when I feel like I can’t run another step. There’s no way I could do this without them.
  • My running playlistLadykillers by Lush, Bring It On by Seal (don’t judge) and The Spinanes’ Kid in Candy were some of today’s highlights. Creator by Santigold got me the closest to that elusive running zone. I need to find more songs like that one.
  • Endurolytes – I have a hard time stomaching sports drinks while I run, so these electrolyte replacement capsules (taken with plain water) are a godsend.
  • Honey Stingers Gold – These little packets of magic will probably be on every update.

Today’s run also had me thinking a lot about the wonderful friends of CJ Taylor. August 14 was the anniversary of CJ’s death and a group of us met for beer, pizza and lots of CJ memories.

Celebrating CJ Taylor

She was an amazing woman, and she had a way of bringing amazing people together to do good work. I’m especially grateful to have these people in my life.

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New York Marathon… Here I Come!

August 5th, 2012

Lisa Dawson

Fred's Team

So my sister talked me into running the New York marathon.

Dana’s a marathoner. You know, one of those women who consider a 15 mile run part of their normal weekend routine. I do not consider myself a runner, but I do like a personal challenge. The clincher was when my friend Brenda signed up. How could I say no?

I’ve done some endurance events in the past – 150-mile bike rides, a few triathlons and half marathons, and one full marathon in 2009. But I’m still getting into shape after dealing with that pesky blood clot in my heart last year, so…

I’m approaching November’s marathon with my focus on the experience, not the finish line.

Fred's TeamI missed the lottery for marathon entries, so I joined Fred’s Team and will be raising funds for ovarian cancer research. This disease is particularly heinous in that it usually doesn’t present symptoms until it’s at an advanced stage.

That was the case for my friend CJ, who lost her fight with ovarian cancer last summer. I’m running in her memory, and in the hope that the money I raise will help develop better screening methods and increase late-stage treatment options.

I’m also trying to appreciate my training runs, focusing on the things that make running a ridiculous number of miles a little easier.

Here’s what I appreciated on today’s run:

  • Injinji toe socks – 10 miles today and not a single blister. These socks are so worth the $16.
  • Honey Stingers Gold energy gels – no nasty aftertaste!
  • The hairband I bought at the Bay to Breakers expo in May. I have no idea who made it, but it’s the only hairband I own that doesn’t slip off when I exercise.

The running playlist I’ve been honing over the years is still doing its job. Today’s “keep on running” tunes included:

I plan on writing about my marathon experience up until the big event on November 4. I hope you’ll follow along and consider supporting my efforts – words of encouragement are just as important to me as that fundraising goal!

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Goodbye to my dear, dear friend CJ Taylor

August 14th, 2011

Lisa Dawson

CJ Taylor

CJ Taylor lost her long, hard battle with ovarian cancer today.

She was my friend and my mentor for more than a decade. She made me feel I could achieve anything if I put my mind to it. And I would do just about anything for her.

CJ would see a need in our community and make it her mission to address it. She took her personal experiences with breast cancer and youth substance abuse and worked hard to ensure others could benefit from what she and her family learned.

She founded the Comprehensive Breast Center at Providence (now Swedish Cherry Hill) and later led the Puget Sound Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure in expanding breast cancer screening, treatment and support services for women in our community. CJ and her husband Bob’s own struggles prompted them to create the SAMA Foundation, which provides much needed resources for families dealing with adolescent drug addiction.

Earlier this year she told me she was satisfied with her life, that life had been good to her. I thought the world had been pretty damn lucky she was a part of it. I know I’m a better woman for having known her.

I am so terribly sad she is gone. I will be forever grateful for the gift of her friendship.